Creator and lawyer Viva Frei, who has gained a strong following on the growing alt-tech platform Rumble and its sister platform Locals, has said that he's “about one millimeter away from suing” Canadian news network CTV, its investigative news and documentary program W5, and host Kevin Newman after W5 broadcast what Viva Frei described as a “dishonest hit piece that tried to paint Rumble like some form of alt-right platform where people go to spew disinformation and hatred.”
The W5 show, which featured an interview with Viva Frei, branded Rumble as “the Canadian-made social media darling of the political right” and claimed that “conspiracy theories about the election are thriving on Rumble.” It also complained that Rumble was hosting several creators that have been censored by other Big Tech platforms and claimed that Rumble was “staking out territory in a section of the internet with fewer boundaries and less concern about where it may be leading us.”
In the interview with Viva Frei, Newman cherry-picked a single comment from the tens of thousands of user comments on Viva Frei's Rumble channel, claimed that this comment was “clearly inciting violence,” framed it as being “inside the Rumble ecosystem,” and suggested that Viva Frei was somehow responsible for these types of comments.
The initial broadcast of the show also falsely claimed that “Freiheit [Viva Frei] has had his posts pulled down by YouTube, challenged by Facebook” when only one of his YouTube videos has been removed and reinstated on appeal and none of his Facebook posts have been challenged.
After Viva Frei requested that CTV “correct and retract” the statement and accused CTV of making a “material misrepresentation” about him, CTV did a stealth edit on the digital version of the W5 show that changed the claim to “Freiheit had a video removed from YouTube which was later reinstated on appeal.”
Viva Frei subsequently requested a specific correction and sent a letter of demand for W5 to properly retract and correct the “false and defamatory statements” in the broadcast. He also noted that the W5 show was being cited in an edit war of his Wikipedia page which claimed that Viva Frei had “extremist far-right views.”
CTV responded by saying that it would “update and clarify the story on air Saturday June 11 2022. However, this on-air clarification contained more false statements, including the false claim that YouTube had reinstated Viva Frei's “COVID post” (the reinstated video wasn't about COVID and was published in 2018, years before the COVID pandemic). It also claimed that W5 had “immediately clarified” its previous false statements when this so-called immediate clarification was actually just a stealth edit.
“I am about a hair away from suing CTV News, W5, anybody responsible for this because all I ever wanted was a proper retraction, proper correction, if only to set the internet straight,” Viva Frei said. “And what do they do? They use it as an opportunity to re-defame Rumble, to re-defame me by making more false, defamatory statements which if they don't go corrected, are going to let other people on my Wikipedia page start making more false entries about me.”
Viva Frei added that “someone has to stand up to this machine, this propaganda machine, that goes around trying to destroy the people that succeed on their own merits.”
The points that Viva Frei is considering suing CTV over aren't the only false statements in the W5 show. The show, which was originally broadcast on February 21, 2022, discussed Rumble setting up an office in the United States and claimed that “Rumble isn't public about where it's setting up in America but W5 found its new home here in a business park on Longboat Key.”
Yet Rumble CEO Chris Pavlovksi did publicly acknowledge this move to Longboat Key in a November 2021 press article where he said: “Moving to Longboat Key is a win-win for Rumble and the Sarasota community.”
Despite the numerous false statements in its own show, W5 framed free speech platform Rumble as a purveyor of “misinformation.” And W5 isn't the only mainstream media outlet to make such statements while framing independent creators and platforms as peddlers of misinformation. After the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial, The Washington Post claimed that “as more people turn to online creators for information, misinformation flourishes” before issuing multiple corrections and admitting that its own article contained inaccurate information.